Tag Archives: construction

Overdue for an Update

I have started moving in!  I have been sleeping in the tiny house since my mattress was delivered at the beginning of the month.  It has been glorious to wake up in my loft, hearing the birds outside and feeling so very much at home!  The bathroom isn’t finished yet, there is no electricity and the propane hasn’t been installed yet, up until yesterday there was nothing to sit on and the floors were covered up with cardboard.

Here’s a recap of the work that has been done in the month since my last update:

The bathtub has been built!  The drain was installed, but leaked, so we had to head back to the drawing board and after some consultation and a new drain basket, fingers crossed, I will have a functional tub at the beginning of June.    Here are the tub progress pics.

The toilet bench has also been built.  The final coat of paint is drying as I type this.  The toilet bench also accommodates the winter grey water tank and the fancy grey water plumbing.  I have to attach the piano hinge for the two lids on the bench (one for the toilet and the other for the grey water compartment).  The sawdust will live in a bin that will rest on the grey water compartment.  The toilet will be ready early next week.

The kitchen counter has been installed!  I am really happy with the counter I chose and with the amount of counter there is in the tiny house.  The kitchen sink and faucet were installed and the freshwater plumbing is almost finished, with the exception of the countertop water inlet connection.  As it’s spring, I am all hooked with a potable water hose and I have running water.  The exterior grey water tank or french drain still has to be worked out, but as I am not living in the house full-time yet, it hasn’t been a problem yet.

The HRV units got their boxes, which we filled with spray foam, and then they were finished.  I am really happy with how the HRV units look and I get a bonus space above them to sneak in a knick-knack if the fancy strikes me.

Left to do (nb: this is not an ordered list)

  • Get a welder to come out and weld on the brackets for the propane tanks.
  • Get propane installed.
  • Install the stove and the furnace.
  • Finish the freshwater plumbing.
  • Install the drain and faucet on the tub.
  • Install the lids on the toilet bench.
  • Install ¼” plywood on the front edges of the rafters for the roofers.
  • Get a new roof.
  • Figure out my clothing storage.
  • Install the last of the trim in the bathroom.
  • Install the medicine cabinet in the bathroom.
  • Have a house-warming party!
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Plumbing

The tiny house is moving forward in leaps and bounds, and then something comes up that stalls everything for a bit and then the build moves forward in a different direction until something comes up that has to be creatively encountered.    The plumbing demands of the house have certainly caused a few minor stalls, creative problem solving and multiple trips to the hardware store.

There are conversations in the tiny house community about the cost of a tiny house per square foot vs the cost of a traditional home.  I have strong opinions about that and won’t get into them now, but I will say that in a tiny house, particularly one in this climate, you have to fit in a lot of the same elements as a traditional home in a much smaller space and then fit in some things you would have to think about let alone find space for.

I started figuring out my plumbing needs and purchasing the big elements of my plumbing several months ago.  My plumbing system allows for pressurized water supply from a hose and also a supply via a  26 gallon fresh water tank under my kitchen sink.  The pressurized water is pretty straightforward – the water comes in and goes either directly to supply the taps of the kitchen sink, bathroom sink or bathtub with the normal bypass to the hot water heater OR it can fill the fresh water tank.  The fresh water tank can be filled 3 ways: (1) the pressurized supply that comes in through an RV water inlet that has a hose connection and  (2) a poured water supply line, (3) poured in through a marine water inlet in the counter.  Once the fresh water tank is filled, there is a water pump that draws water from the tank to supply cold water directly to the taps or to the hot water heater to supply hot water to the taps.    The reasons for the fresh water tank and the multiple ways of  filling it are weather related.  At -30 celsius, there is no guarantee that even the best heated potable water hose will be able to supply water to the house, and at the same time I want to be able to fill the water tank from inside – getting water into a small hole at chest height at -30 is not my idea of fun.

Once the supply aspect of the fresh water system was worked out and plumbed, the rest of the fresh water went really quickly.  The fresh water plumbing is done with pex and clear vinyl tubing (for filling the fresh water tank through the exterior and interior inlets).

The grey water has had its challenges as well.  The grey water from the bathtub, the kitchen and bathroom sinks all goes out of the house at the same spot under the tub.  The grey water will leave the house and go into a storage tank or a french drain will have to be set up, depending on the location of the house.  That system will work well until the weather goes below freezing.  I have no desire to chance what will happen in a grey water outlet or tank once the water in it freezes and expands.  Visions of cold hours under my trailer at -30  are also not my idea of fun.  The original plan was to have buckets under the sinks and to shower elsewhere in winter, both of which I am fine with.   Unfortunately, fitting a fresh water tank, a pump and a water heater under a counter does not leave any space for a bucket.

Here is the solution:  the grey water from the kitchen goes past the bathtub, joins up with the grey water from the bathroom sink and then heads to a valve that either sends it towards the tubs grey water and out of the house or to a grey water container inside the bathroom.  Putting the solution in place called for some creative plumbing and pieces.  I am still on the hunt for a 5-6 gallon  grey water tank that I will be able to remove from its spot in the bathroom and empty in a suitable location.

Building Bonanza Update: Kitchen Installation

It has been a full week of building.  The kitchen cabinets are in, the plumbing has been started and is almost complete inside the house, another order of lumber was done  for the bathroom siding, the ceiling under the loft and the remainder of the trim; the bathtub has been built and the fiberglass tub is ⅔ complete.

The kitchen cabinets went in beautifully.  It was a bit of a tight squeeze in some spots, the wheel well boxes had to be shaved down in size and there are shims in places I didn’t even know one would put shims.  The kitchen looks great. I was concerned that the house would feel smaller once the kitchen was in, but it doesn’t.  I wanted to be sure that there was a good amount of storage and counter space in the kitchen, but that there is also enough space between the counters so that two people can work in the kitchen and so that someone can still get to the bathroom if someone is cooking.  Mission accomplished!  There is just about 3′ of space between the kitchen cabinets and the comfort of that space has been tested thoroughly as construction continues.  It’s a great spot to work out the next challenge.  I can feel the kitchen parties happening already.

A word about my countertop. I have decided to go with a butcher block countertop.  Not the best choice weight wise, but a good choice as far as handling the stresses of the road.  We took a field trip after my last post to visit  a countertop supplier in Montreal.  They had gorgeous options in all things countertop.   They came in at twice to almost three times the price of Ikea for a solid wood butcher block counter.   To see the Ikea countertop, I had to buy the countertop sight unseen with the exception of well-worn sample in the kitchen department.  Another field trip to Ikea.  After watching the stock for the countertops  for a week, they were finally in stock on Good Friday.  So off we went to find the store packed.  We navigated through the maze of the showroom using as many shortcuts as possible to stand in a considerable line and wait to order the countertop. Once ordered, another journey to navigate through the rest of the showroom and then down to the stock floor and navigate out of the small items stock into the large item stock room to wait in a longer line to pay for the countertops.  Then to the returns/merchandise pick up counter, where I took a number, with only 41 people ahead of me to find out that I didn’t need to pick a number, just stand and wait in front of a large screen to watch my order travel through three columns of received, being prepared, and completed.  Fortunately, my order was automatically put in the queue when I paid and equally fortunate, I got another number about halfway through my first wait of 41 people, in case I had to return the countertops.  I got the countertops and decided to return them, despite the long wait to see them.  The joinery in the butcher block made for weak point that would be problematic in the road.  There was a wooden table like the countertop  in the As-Is department that was bowed out of shape.  I highly recommend staying away from Ikea on a holiday or weekend if at all possible, unless you enjoy long lines and lots of waiting.

Interior Siding: Part II

This has been a wonderfully busy week for Tiny Refuge.  The replacement for my door finally arrived and it was installed.  The door they originally sent was 1/4″ too short, leaving enough space for the weather to get in. I have been waiting for the new door for months.  Not only do I have a new door, I have a door handle and a deadbolt.  Much fancier than the scraps of 2×4 that were standing in for a door handle.

I spent quite a few hours this week sanding the ridge beam.  I wasn’t sure if the ridge beam was going to be visible or not, so I didn’t get it sanded at the sawmill.  It had a few dark marks on it and was rough enough that you could get splinters if you rubbed it the wrong way.  I  used a palm sander and got that ridge beam smooth.  I am going to leave it exposed and as we installed some of the ceiling this weekend, it needed to be sanded before hand.

By the time Saturday rolled around, the tiny house was ready for some more siding.  Saturday we finished the dormer fronts and  the ceiling in the dormers.  The dormer fronts were pretty straightforward, with far fewer cutouts than the main floor.  The ceiling on the other hand was a little more challenging.  I am using wider boards on my ceiling and unlike the walls, where I manned the saw and Stefan did the installation, we were both up in the lofts getting the boards in place.  We started the installation at the ridge beam and then worked towards the walls.

Sunday, we started tackling the dormer sides and I was up in the loft installing the siding.  Saturday, I used a nail gun (the brad nailer) for the first time and Sunday I was manning the brad nailer.  The dormer sides are slow going.  The angles are slightly different on each one and the top two pieces of siding require cuts on the table saw and the mitre saw.  The tiny house only has space for the mitre saw, so the top two pieces required quite a few trips outside.  We got 5 ½ dormers done and one of the small sections of 12/12 pitch ceiling done in the small loft.

Next weekend: the dormer sides will get finished, as will the ceiling on the rest of the 12/12 ceiling. The bathroom wall will get built and sided and then we start on trim.

Electrical Rough In and Wheel Well Boxes

One step closer to insulating Tiny Refuge.  Once the insulation is done, we start putting up the interior siding.  So exciting!  Before I get ahead of myself, we completed the electrical rough in this weekend.   The work this weekend was stalled a couple of times due to weather and we ran out of wire, who knew a tiny house would need more than 150m (almost 500ft) of 14/2 wire and then some 14/3 wire too. We worked on finishing the electrical rough in on Saturday and filling in the open spaces in the rafters with leftover rigid insulation so that the spray foam will stay in the house and not come out onto the exterior siding.

First thing Sunday, I ran to Home Depot and picked up more wire so we could finish the wiring and Stefan started on the exterior plugs, inlets, the HRV placement, the furnace flue and the porch light.  When I got back, I got continued with the wiring and insulating the gaps.   My mother came and helped us in the afternoon protecting the outlet boxes and the windows by sealing them in plastic.  Stefan built out the sides of the dormers so that they can put in a full 3″ of insulation and then built the wheel well boxes.  I was outside manning the mitre saw.  It was above freezing, which was nice, but rather treacherous to walk as the snow on the ground had a decent layer of ice overtop and I ran out of salt to ice the path.

Next up will be the propane rough in.

2nd Build Weekend

The second weekend of building with Stefan was really good.   We had hoped that my ridge been would be here so that we could start working on the rafters, but the sawmill was unable to deliver my 22′ 4×6 ridge beam.   Plans were changed – instead of rafters, we set out to finish the 4th wall of the house and the 4 walls ready for siding.  I ordered 4’x8′ sheets of 1″  extruded polystyrene insulation to put around the house to help increase the Rvalue of my walls.  Code in Québec calls for R25 in walls – in order to get that kind of Rvalue in my walls and keep as much interior space as possible, the exterior walls have to be insulated as well.

Before we insulated, we finished the 4th wall of the house which was different from the first three for several reasons.  I have chosen to almost create a bay window in that end wall of the house.  Doing so creates some interesting challenges in a tiny home.  The plans for the house call for parallam posts and beams in that wall along with a threaded rod  under the window and strapping around the edges.  I could not find the exact posts and beams required and ended up with slightly smaller posts (1/4″ smaller on one side) and beams that were almost 2″ wider.  Parallam is an engineered wood, quite beautiful to look at.  It is also heavy.   The wall went together pretty quickly and then we built the loft framing.

I am in the background ratcheting one of 6 8" lagbolts into the parallam beam to attach it to the subfloor.  That beam is not going anywhere.
I am in the background ratcheting one of 6 8″ lag bolts into the parallam beam to attach it to the subfloor. That beam is not going anywhere.
Stefan is measuring, I am daintily  ratcheting a lag bolt.
Stefan is measuring, I am daintily ratcheting a lag bolt.
The threaded rod that goes through the wall.
The threaded rod that goes through the wall.
Isn't the parallam pretty?
Isn’t the parallam pretty?
One end wall mostly sheathed.
One end wall mostly sheathed.
The view from what will be the kitchen
The view from what will be the kitchen.
The view from the bay window into the rest of the house.
The view from the bay window into the rest of the house.

By the end of Saturday, we had the 4 walls built and sheathed.  Sunday we only did a half day, we put up the insulation, wrapped the house with house wrap and then put up strapping until the nail gun ran out of nails.   Not bad for a day and a half.

I am generally not a morning person and yet here I am smiling early on a Sunday morning!
I am generally not a morning person and yet here I am smiling early on a Sunday morning!
The large loft is in place.  I chose to go with cedar 4"x4" for the collar ties for both lofts.  The plans called for my flooring to go directly on the collar ties, but Stefan suggested that we go with 5/8" plywood first and the put the flooring over top.  I am very pleased with that decision as that plywood has taken a beating.
The large loft is in place. I chose to go with cedar 4″x4″ for the collar ties for both lofts. The plans called for my flooring to go directly on the collar ties, but Stefan suggested that we go with 5/8″ plywood first and the put the flooring over top. I am very pleased with that decision as that plywood has taken a beating. For those who are interested, I am cutting the window out of the insulation.

My house all pretty in pink!
My house all pretty in pink!
Wrapping the house. Stefan used roofing nails to keep the house wrap in place.
Wrapping the house. Stefan used roofing nails to keep the house wrap in place.
At the end of the day, I went up to the loft to repair some holes in the tarp and ended up falling alseep in my loft.
At the end of the day, I went up to the loft to repair some holes in the tarp and ended up falling asleep in my loft.
Me still asleep and stored below me are my windows which arrived Saturday morning stored safely under the loft.
Me still asleep and stored below me are my windows which arrived Saturday morning stored safely under the loft.